Responding to Wildfires on the West Coast

Looking for information or ways to provide support to the wildfires consuming so many areas of the west coast?

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Wildfires in western states have intensified significantly in the past decade due to the effects of climate change, high temperatures, drought, and by accidental ignition. 

Charity Navigator has developed a list of 3 and 4-star rated organizations that are providing support. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently hosted a coordination call about Haiti and the western wildfires. Skip to part 2 of the recording to hear more about what is happened and how companies can join response efforts.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is providing regular updates on as many fires as possible. They've also compiled a list of ways funders can help provide relief as well as mitigate future instances:

"Funders should consider the following options to support fire-impacted communities now and to reduce the impact of future fires:

  • Award loans and grants for rebuilding damaged homes and businesses. There is currently a $2 million cap on disaster loans for businesses or private, nonprofit organizations through the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. That amount may not cover what is needed, and monies allocated may be slow to arrive.
  • Support local agencies on the ground throughout the disaster life cycle, especially those working with marginalized communities. Those in already precarious situations — such as the elderly, sick, undocumented and mixed-status families and people living in poverty — may find their circumstances worsened in the face of disaster. Mental health providers, food banks and organizations working with children or the elderly, for example, must have plans in place to mitigate the disaster’s impacts.
  • Fund drought mitigation efforts. These may focus on sustainable agriculture, water conservation or even land use. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, an emerging area for research is land-use patterns that “maintain the integrity of watersheds and that have a smaller paved footprint result in greater resilience in the face of drought.”
  • Invest in public awareness and educational campaigns as well as dissemination of promising practices in wildfire and drought mitigation. Simple efforts such as clearing flammable materials from 100 feet around the house may help prevent property damage. Fires can also be started by misuse of equipment, such as grills, that can be averted with proper knowledge.
  • Assist businesses in developing business continuity and disaster recovery plans to reduce economic impact. These plans should include contingencies for displaced workers, backup of data and alternate facilities for continuing operations in the event of property damage.
  • Consider the needs of volunteer fire departments. As volunteers, they often lack the structural support of larger departments, and their resources may have been depleted during the wildfire.
  • Support the creation of “smart growth” efforts. Smart planning can help mitigate wildfires or prevent them altogether.

 
As with most disasters, experts recommend cash donations. They allow on-the-ground agencies to direct funds to the most significant area of need, support economic recovery and ensure donation management does not detract from disaster recovery needs."

Katy Elder

Vice President, Business Innovation, Points of Light

A member of the Points of Light team since November 2012, Katy serves as Vice President, Business Innovation. She brings with her nearly 20 years of experience in employee volunteerism, community affairs and internal communications. After leading Points of Light’s corporate consulting practice for six years, she is now responsible for developing content and innovative learning opportunities to advance the corporate citizenship sector.

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